Now that it’s here in the middle of March, I think I can now safely say it without offending the old farmer. “Hey! No snow! No Ice Storm! What’s the deal?” The winter that is finally coming to a tropical end has its bittersweet perspective of influence. On one hand, we weren’t buried up to our gutters in paralyzing snow and frozen tundra. That’s a good thing. On the other hand, I feel cheated that I so sincerely followed every safety tip available to prepare for an apocalypse proportion winter weather event that never occurred. It’s a mixed bag of emotions that one feels when you’re totally prepared for environmental life altering acts of God. We as humans are weird creations.
After the ice storm of 2003, I swore to myself that I would never be caught so unprepared again. I got propane heat tanks and a furnace. I got a wood burning stove and a generator. I bought every lamp and bottle of oil I could put my hands on. I remember going to the store one night and coming home with $50 worth of batteries. I even sent off for some of that awful tasting emergency food you can keep at room temperature for up to ten years without spoiling. I was all ready to suffer baby! Every night as I watched the Weather Channel, I mentally inserted myself into all of the “Storm Stories” episodes. One night I was the guy whose car was buried under 5 feet of snow, the next night I was trying to keep my house from washing into the sea. I was training for anything that Nimbus the weather God could throw my way. I had confidence, experience, and Lord knows I had the batteries to swing it. It was quite the intoxicating feeling. I felt like Rocky running up the steps in the final exaltation waiting to step into the ring with Mother Nature and daring her to knock me to the canvas. For in my heart, I knew no matter how severe it got, I could take her best shot. Imagine if you will. It’s the buildup to the final big fight scene in Rocky as the ring announcer says, “Ladies and gentlemen, Apollo Creed couldn’t make it tonight, Rocky’s the winner! You can all go home now and don’t forget to drive carefully.” As I hear the peepers chirping outside my window heralding the end of winter, I finally have come to the sudden and sobering realization that I will have to wait yet another year to do battle with the evil forces that calls itself the winter equinox. How many others out there feel a wee bit cheated that we weren’t able to use all the survivalist techniques we learned and practiced by not being prepared?
This is a true story that I dare to share after the ice storm of 2003, I made the decision to go out and buy a potbelly stove. Even though my house had chimneys and the infrastructure was all in place, I had never had a wood- burning stove before. Without hesitation, I went forward to be prepared. After it was installed and checked out, I was officially informed that I was ready to start torching up logs as an alternative fuel source for my now energy efficient domicile.
It was one of those first chilly nights in late October when I cautiously figured that my new toy was ripe for a true test. I loaded her down with logs and as the old saying goes; it was fire in the hole! In almost five years of living on my farm, I had yet to ever see the sight of smoke gently wafting from the chimney. As the stove began to roar, I ran outside during the purple twilight to gaze upon the vision and enjoy the aroma of my genuine country hearth on its maiden voyage. I stood there in a rustic fuel induced trance and marveled at one of life’s most simplistic pleasures. It was all of about thirty seconds before the family glow was doused like a drop and roll exercise at the fireman’s convention . Suddenly and without warning, the power went out plunging my Norman Rockwell moment into an abyss of pitch black and darkness. I remember saying to myself, “This could not be!” As I stood there and accessed what I had just witnessed, a wave of community fear crashed upon my shivering body as I remembered telling myself, “You fool! You must have done something so wrong while firing up the stove that you blew a transformer or something.”
I quickly jumped into my car and began driving down the road and towards town. All I noticed was that the lights were all off everywhere as I passed by. I must have driven at least five miles while cursing myself while wondering if you can be excommunicated from a rural township for this kind of irresponsible behavior. As I turned and headed home, I thoroughly expected to find the Sheriff and his “wood burning police” standing right there on my front doorstep ready to take me Downtown. I was easy enough to trace. After all, all you had to do was look to the sky and follow the trail of smoke. As I returned home trying to figure out how I was going to get out of this mess, the lights all suddenly came flickering back on. I dashed into the house and made a beeline to the stove. As I looked it over trying to figure out what I had done, I slowly began to emerge from the mystical land of the “Stupids.”
For the record, I had spent the last twenty minutes of my life under the belief that I had been the sole perpetrator of a massive power failure in Vernon Township because of my inexperience at operating a wood -burning stove. Please never let Donald Trump ever read this. I applied to be on the show as an energy expert and intentionally deleted this personal slice of life experience under the belief that it might not look too good on my resume!